Today we played golf at Royal Dornoch, one of the top golf courses in the world.
Yesterday at dinner we talked to an American who had become a member at Royal Dornoch and who had traveled to Dornoch for a three week stay to play the course.
He has played Pine Valley, Augusta National, Cypress Point—three of the greatest—and Royal Dornoch, he said, was the best of them all.
Dornoch is off the beaten path, a town of 1200 souls, so far north it is on the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska, which would explain why it doesn’t get dark this time of year until well after 11:00 p.m.
You don’t find Dornoch by accident; you have to be intentional about it. It is a course at the pinnacle of the golf world that few will ever experience, in a town few will ever visit.
It is like sanctification. Golf is like sanctification.
There is nothing natural about the golf swing. Almost every impulse you have when you first pick up a club is wrong. You want to grip the club tightly, take the club back quickly, and hit hard with your right side over the top of the ball from the outside in. You must learn to grip the club lightly, take the club back slowly, and hit from the inside with the left side leading. It is not intuitive, and it is not natural.
To overcome these wrong impulses, one must be intentional. The best way is to take lessons from a professional, someone who can watch the new student of the game, show the proper way, and point out when he regresses into his old ways.
Regression happens more often than one would desire, and more so when one is out on the course. Any golfer who has tried to improve his golf swing understands the struggle the Apostle Paul described: “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15.
The good news is that it is possible to develop an excellent golf swing. To watch one who has become an expert swing a golf club is to watch a beautiful, seemingly effortless, motion that produces incredulously long and straight shots. Fo the expert, what was such a struggle to develop becomes natural.
The path toward being conformed to the image of Jesus is similar. It feels unnatural because the image of God in us has become corrupted by the sin disease. Sanctification doesn’t happen by accident, but through discipleship, intentionality, and the aid of the Holy Spirit, what it is unnatural can become so much of who we truly are it seems natural.
What I learned playing Royal Dornoch today is that I need more golf discipleship, more of the Holy Spirit, or both.
Signing off from Dornoch. GS